1 evening a week for 6 weeks / 7 benchmark wines each evening
6.45-8.45pm (Evgs 1 & 2 last a little longer).
C-Space, 37-45 City Road, London EC1Y 1AT. This is immediately opposite the Bunhill Cemetery and Zebra Crossing, and right next to Wesley’s Chapel. A 3 minute walk from Old Street Tube, 7 minutes from Moorgate or Liverpool Street, and on numerous bus routes: 43, 76, 121, 141, 177 etc.
£359   Scroll to the bottom of this page for the purchase link.

This course is based on the 9 tastings detailed in the last section of my book: Essential Winetasting. It is an introduction to basic tasting technique, covering the world’s major grape varieties and their varying styles from the principal wine producing countries.


Mondays: Jan 27; Feb 3, 10, 17, 24; Mar 2; 2020

Beginners course core content

  • Benchmark quality wines to taste.
  • A thorough grounding in tasting, in how to ‘see what there is to see’.
  • Perceiving quality differences, describing style differences.
  • Enabling you to make sense of what you taste in terms of description, quality, style, typicity, preference, value for money, drinking context.
  • 41 wines are tasted ranging, approximately, from £5 to £45 a bottle.


By the end of six weeks you will have

  • Tasted the majority of different wine types.
  • A system which helps you compare, describe and remember wines.
  • A means of enabling you to perceive and discuss their quality.
  • The ability to see more ‘patterns’ in wine, & make more sense of its great variety.
  • A better developed combination of personal taste and objective judgement.


Wines from europe

  • France: Loire (Muscadet, Sancerre,) Alsace; Burgundy (red, white); Beaujolais; Bordeaux; Champagne; Rhône.
  • Italy: Tuscany; Piedmont.
  • Spain: Rioja; Sherry.
  • Germany: Mosel.
  • Hungary: Tokay.
  • Portugal: Port, Madeira.


Wines from the new world

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • California
  • Chile
  • South Africa


Major grape varieties tasted

  • White: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Furmint, Muscat
  • Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Syrah/Shiraz


Major wine styles tasted

  • White
  • Red
  • Dry
  • Sweet
  • Sparkling
  • Fortified

Beginners Course Synopses

Evening 1

Wines: Dry Whites

Countries / Regions: ITALY, FRANCE: Alsace, Loire, Burgundy

Grapes: Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

You will learn about::

  • Glassware to use, styles of bottles
  • How and where you notice sweetness, acidity
  • The tasting properties of alcohol
  • Basic Tasting Technique – How to get the most out of a wine
  • The elements in white wine balance
  • Varieties of white wine style & the importance of acidity
  • What colour tells you in white wine
  • How to tell differences in quality in dry white wines
  • How to “nose” efficiently
  • France and its ‘Appellation ‘ system
  • The effects of oak barrels on white wine
  • White wine and temperature
  • Combining white wine with food
Evening 2

Wines: Reds

Countries / Regions: FRANCE: Bordeaux, Burgundy, SPAIN: Rioja ITALY: Piedmont

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo.

You will learn about:

  • How grapes are grown and how wine is made (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • The differences between red wine and white wine
  • Grape skins – what tannin is, and its effect on wine and food
  • The effects of temperature on red wine
  • What colour tells you in red wine
  • How to tell differences in quality in red wines
  • The effect of oak barrels on red wine
  • Decanting, and letting wines ‘breathe’
  • Combining red wines with food
  • Geography and hierarchy in Bordeaux
  • Wine and age.  Is older necessarily better?
Evening 3

Wines: Reds & Whites (Dry & At Various Levels Of Sweetness)


Grapes: All the wines are served ‘blind’ this evening

You will learn about:

  • Blind Tasting (red and white) – its advantages and disadvantages
  • ‘What it’s like’ versus ‘whether I like it’
  • Is it ‘good value’? versus Is it ‘good of its kind’?
  • Wine and words
  • Description as distinct from evaluation
  • How sweet wines are made
  • Varieties of sweet wine styles
  • The effects of alcohol on taste
  • Wines at very different levels of sweetness
  • What ‘Noble Rot’ is
  • Combining dessert wines with food
Evening 4

Wines: Sparkling & ‘Muted’ & Fortified


Grapes: Dessert Muscats; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier

You will learn about:

  • How sparkling wines are made (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • Tasting and judging sparkling wines – Blind
  • Quality in sparkling wines – the bubbles especially
  • Serving sparkling wines
  • Stopping fermentation to make wines sweet
  • The extraordinary Muscat family
Evening 5

Wines: Dry Whites & Reds


Grapes: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc; Syrah/Shiraz, Cab. Sauvignon, Merlot

You will learn about:

  • Viticulture & Winemaking in the New World (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • Non European wines
  • How New World wines are labelled
  • How New World Wines differ in style from European wines
  • Different styles, but the same fundamental quality criteria
  • Syrah (Europe) versus Shiraz (Australia)
  • New World Cabernet based wines
  • How to tell faults in wine
Evening 6

Wines: Fortified (Sherry, Port, Madeira)

Countries / Regions: SPAIN, PORTUGAL, MADEIRA

Grapes: A great number!

You will learn about:

  • Where & how Sherry, Port and Madeira are made (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • Fortified wines and their different styles
  • Sherry: bone dry, and sweet
  • Madeira: at very different quality levels
  • Port: ruby or tawny, and vintage
  • Tasting and judging fortified wines
  • Fortified wines and food
  • A revision of how you perceive and articulate quality differences
  • How to store & cellar wines, the different systems available
  • Making your own notes and records, how and why
  • Buying wine en primeur, to ‘lay down’.

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